Sorry that we’ve been a bit quiet – our editor had COVID, then moved house, but now we’re back! Recently, I’ve been looking for books that might entice reluctant readers, especially boys, to pick them up and have a go. We’re talking not too long, exciting covers, and titles that may really inspire them.
One of the books I’ve come across is the first in the Tiger Warrior series, Attack of the Dragon King, written by M. Chan and illustrated by Alan Brown (published by Hachette Children’s Group, 2021).
Jack is a normal boy who enjoys playing computer games, particularly ones that involve killing dragons. Jack lives with his mum and his grandfather, Ye Ye, who has always told Jack amazing stories about a place called the Jade Kingdom.
Now Ye Ye’s starting to feel his age a bit, and decides the time has come to pass on something very special to Jack; a jade coin, inscribed with the animals of the Chinese zodiac. A coin that holds very special powers…powers that will help him to investigate the fabled Jade Kingdom.
This is a book that’s full of adventure, dragons, and the most wonderful animals from the Chinese zodiac. With dynamic illustrations and non-stop action, it’s certainly something to inspire young readers who are looking for something a little bit different!
The next book is again the first in a series: Marv and the Mega Robot, written by Alex Falase-Koya and illustrated by Paula Bowles (published by Oxford University Press, 2022).
While pondering their school science fayre project over comics at lunch, Marvin is stunned to see a superhero with dark skin like him in Jo’s collection – a superhero called Marv, with a big M on his front.
When he tells his grandad about Marv, his grandad has a surprise for him: a familiar costume with an M on the front, and a robotic sidekick! And just in time as well, as a young supervillain has a plan to win the science fayre…fairly or not.
This is a superhero with a difference; he may not fly, but he is kind, determined, and doesn’t like things being unfair. With an engaging cartoon style and an uplifting sense of fun, it’s a fantastic first volume in the series. And with 3 books out so far, we can’t wait to pick up the others and see Marvin – ahem, Marv back in action!
The third book is Tomas and Ironskin, the first in a series called Dragon Storm, written by Alastair Chisholm and illustrated by Eric Deschamps and Ben Mantle (published by Nosy Crow, 2022).
Thousands of years ago, dragons and humans were friends; before the Dragon Storm meant that they disappeared from the human world. So Tomas can’t understand why he and his blacksmith father are making dragon swords – swords capable of killing dragons – for the King. And when a strange face in the fire tells him to be ready, he knows that something unusual is definitely going on.
When the dark-clothed stranger who comes with the captain to collect the swords offers him an apprenticeship as a clerk, Tomas believes his future is set. What he doesn’t expect is to find out that the stranger is linked to the mysterious Guild of Dragon Seers, and that he has seen in Tomas something that Tomas himself is unaware of…
It’s a brilliant book, full of action and adventure that is quite heart-stopping in places, and a touching theme of forging your own destiny. And there’s certainly a villain of the piece who might feature in the next entry – based on another young dragonseer and their own dragon who we look forward to flying off with!
All of the books above are illustrated, so they’re not too imposing for children who might find books, and the whole idea of reading, a bit unwelcoming. And since each is the first book in a new series, discovering one they like means the fun doesn’t have to end there! There are three titles out so far in both the Tiger Warrior and Marv series, and four in the Dragon Storm series. Enough to keep them (and us!) happy and reading for a while!
If you like the sound of any of the books we’ve reviewed here, you can grab copies at the links above.
(Disclosure: If you buy books linked to our site, we may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops.)
If you’re looking for other adventurous stories for younger or more reluctant readers, then you check out some of our previous review compilations here.